Voice, Tone and Writing Style
Fresno State marching band

Characterizations of “bold.”

When we speak or write about Fresno State, what we say matters — but how we say it is equally important.

Our Voice and Tone

We have endless opportunities to demonstrate our bold brand character, both in narrative and visually. But in expressing that character, must you always use the word, “bold” in copy? Not necessarily, as being “bold” can have any number of characterizations, for example:

  • Courageous
  • Forward-thinking
  • Focused
  • Innovative
  • Determined
  • Imaginative
  • Confident
  • Decisive
  • Fearless
  • Refreshing
  • Gutsy
  • Pre-emptive
  • Not routine
  • Unconventional
  • Loyal

This list could be long, and thankfully, copy expression always depends upon what is most appropriate given the communication and its context — the product, the objective, the target, the tenor and the dimensions of that specific message.

In general, the tone of Fresno State communications should be clear, engaging and authentic. If we are too formal, too institutional, we lose our audience. Yes, we want our audience to be informed, but we also want them to be inspired.

Writing Style

The tone used in communications should adjust based on your audience. Everything you write should have the reader in mind. A quick test to see if you’re on the right track is to ask yourself, “Does what I’m writing compel people to want read on?” Use the contagious spirit surrounding Fresno State to fuel excitement and cultivate support, while also being smart in your copy.

Avoid jargon-heavy language that makes Fresno State sound too institutional and authoritative. Jargon can alienate readers — instead, use language you would say in everyday conversation, while still maintaining a quick and inspiring wit. Here are some examples:

An example of State of the University Newspaper copy:

Thank you for being here today to celebrate Fresno State and for cheering on our students as they make their way toward graduation.

Every year, over 5,000 students graduate and 80 percent remain in our Central Valley to live, work and contribute back. From faculty to our community, so many caring individuals and businesses have had a hand in their success.

Fresno State is a primary catalyst in our region where there is continual need for a next generation of leaders and no shortage of opportunities and challenges to address.

With your support and collaboration, our University offers a perfect “living” laboratory for developing student success and a brighter future for our home and world.

An example of Fresno State Magazine copy:

Somewhere along the way, while pages fell off the calendar and hopes began anew, the little University that could became the major University that will. A blossoming community at the heart of the Central Valley grew in aspiration as quickly as it grew in size. And it didn’t take long for that University and that community to come together as one — producing an educated workforce to drive the economy while unifying residents behind the excitement of Fresno State.

The Red Wave was born.

An example of advertising copy:

What does being the first mean? For nearly 70% of our students, it’s being first in their families to go to college. It’s being the first to defy the odds stacked against them and being the first to exceed all expectations. It’s being first to walk across the stage at graduation as trailblazers, paving the path for a new generation.

So it’s fitting that Fresno State is the first in the nation to receive four American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) awards. To us, these awards are more than a number of trophies — they signify our commitment to putting students first.

For your reference, check out the Editorial Style Guide for consistent treatment of information and language about the University.

This guide is for writing for the University’s external audience, excluding media. Contact University Communications for press release guidance and media-focused writing. For your reference, below is an example from a news story.

An example of news copy:

Fresno State students, faculty and staff provided more than 1.44 million hours of service to the community during the 2017-2018 academic year setting a new campus record for engagement and service-learning, according to the University’s “Service Impact on the Community” report.

The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State, which released the report, announced the estimated economic impact of service at $40.3 million.